Delayed Speech Development in Preschooler

How can I find a trustworthy source to diagnose and treat my young child's deficient speech and language skills? He's way behind his peers in this area, and I'm especially concerned because he's supposed to start school next fall. How do I talk to him about this without making him feel abnormal?

You can begin by setting up a consultation with your pediatrician or family doctor. They will probably have a number of suggestions for you, but we’d urge you to supplement this advice by having your child evaluated by a licensed educational psychologist, preferably one who is familiar with the standards and requirements of the public school system in your area. The psychologist will be able to assess your son’s strengths and weaknesses and recommend the best educational options.

Many educational psychologists are also in a position to act as your child’s advocate, and will go to bat for you with the local district as your son prepares to enter school. If he is diagnosed with a learning disability, he becomes eligible for certain state and federal programs designed to provide him with the assistance he needs in order to succeed. Your job will be to find out exactly what he is entitled to and where to go in order to get him the best instruction based on his needs. You will probably be able to locate this within your local school district, though not necessarily at the neighborhood school down the street.

For more information about learning disabilities, speech therapy, and the various kinds of help available to children with special needs, we suggest you contact Focus on the Family’s Counseling department for a one-time over-the-phone consultation.

Meanwhile, as you talk with your son about his situation, it’s important to let him know how deeply you care about him and how special you think he is. Make sure he understands that God loves him, treasures him, and has a wonderful plan for his life. As he grows, work to instill in him a sense that his worth is based not on his abilities or academic achievements, but on the fact that his Father in Heaven has designed him as a unique human being and gifted him with talents and qualities that nobody else possesses. In the process of helping him cope with his disability, focus on that aspect of his humanity that matters most to God – his character. Teach him, guide him, and nurture him in such a way that he will grow up to be a young man who loves others from a sincere heart and who treats them with respect and kindness.

Above all else, never forget that the Lord has blessed you with this child. As you embrace the exciting challenge of molding his character and shaping his life in accord with God’s will, we believe you’ll find a great deal of help and encouragement in an excellent book written specifically for parents of special needs kids. It’s called A Special Kind of Love, and it’s authored by Susan Osborn and Janet Mitchell. This resource can be ordered through online booksellers and most Christian bookstores.



If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Focus on the Family Complete Guide to Baby & Child Care

Empowering Your Child Who Has Special Needs

Other Special Needs resources

John Rosemond: Parenting with Love and Leadership

Child Development Education Alliance

The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential

For Special Students


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